Beyond looking after the bride and distributing confetti, a bridesmaid’s duty lies in being an integral part of the occasion. Bridesmaids not only provide moral support for the bride and ensure the smooth organization of the day, but must also look the part, too. In times past, a marriage was less about the romance and more about the cementing of status between families. Large weddings had many bridesmaids to indicate the wealth and importance of the joining couple, all in coordinating vintage bridesmaid dresses chosen by the bride.
Luckily for us, today sees endless options for a whole host of vintage bridesmaid dresses in varying hues and styles. Whether you are planning a 1920s themed ceremony or a romantic 1950s themed day, there is sure to be the right dress out there for you. Many of these dresses, of course, could be worn just for that one day; however, they would also lend themselves perfectly to being worn to a variety of different occasions.
Here I have chosen vintage bridesmaid dresses suitable for each era, which are available from retailers now.
1920s Bridesmaid Dresses
In the 1920s, bridesmaids would wear their gowns after the wedding, as illustrated in this extract from Woman’s Weekly 1924:
‘When a bride is choosing her maids from her own neighborhood, as often happens, selecting their dresses isn’t the easiest task. Naturally, the girls don’t want to meet at a local gathering each looking exactly alike. Here is a solution to the problem. If an ivory net or fine lace frock is chosen for the wedding day all the bridesmaids can wear a colored slip and sash or trimming to match. It will be quite an easy matter afterwards for them to make an entirely new slip in any shade they like, and this will entirely alter the look of the frocks. When this scheme is tried I don’t believe anyone would ever guess the frocks were planned alike’.
These wonderful 1920s style dresses perfectly evoke the Flapper girl era and the sophisticated Art Deco style. In order to alter the appearance of the dress after the ceremony, simply choose different accessories. No need to change the color of your slips or sashes in today’s times! Wear with delicate sparkling jewelry and perhaps floral accessories for the day, then layer with darker tones for the evening.
1930s Bridesmaid Dresses
These 1930s style dresses are all about glamour. The soft tones add a touch of femininity, whilst the floor sweeping lengths ensure these dresses will uphold the formality of the occasion. These Unique Vintage gowns (bottom row) and ASOS (Top Row) dresses are very simply cut, but the details immediately bring to mind the geometric shapes of the 1930s.
During this time, after the stock market crashed in 1929, people were looking to movies and film stars for escapism. Sirens of the silver screen like Jean Harlow and Bette Davis provided perfect inspiration. Another form of escapism people indulged in during this trying era was dreaming of their perfect wedding. Specialist bridal magazines appeared on newsstands during this decade, allowing women to read about and plan every little detail of their perfect day.
1940s Bridesmaid Dresses
In the 1940s, women sometimes dyed their bridal gowns in order to alter their appearance to be worn again. One often thinks of pastel shades when pondering hues suitable for weddings — however, this is not always the case.
There are indeed a few rhymes and traditions concerning bridal colors: ‘Married in blue, love ever true. Married in green ashamed to be seen’. These sometimes cross over to influence the whole bridal party, not just the bride. One tradition even recalls that the bridesmaids should dress identically to the bride; in order to confuse bad spirits who may wish to cause the bride trouble on her wedding day. To the modern bride of today, the prospect of the bridesmaids wearing the same gown would be entirely out of the question!
As mentioned previously, weddings in the 1940s tended to be a much smaller affair than previous decades. The wedding ceremony may need to be hastily arranged, perhaps when the bridegroom is on a few short days leave from his military duties.
These 1940s style bridesmaid dresses reflect the austerity of the era, but still retain a strong sense of style. Pair with seamed stockings and red lipstick for a more authentic 1940s look. Dresses towards the end of the decade began to utilize more fabric, and for formal occasions the hemlines once again dropped.
1950s Bridesmaid Dresses
If you are planning a 1950s themed wedding, there are some wonderful quintessential 1950s style dresses available to fulfill all your mid century dreams. These dresses feature fitted bodices with a full flared skirt, tea length or floor length hem, and pastel colors – the ultimate 1950s silhouette.
For a more formal wedding, floor-length gowns could be worn too. To complete the 1950s look, accessorize with day gloves and perhaps add a hat in a harmonizing tone.
1960s Bridesmaid Dresses
By the 1960s, fashion was changing rapidly. An abundance of styles were in vogue, some seemingly complete opposites. The babydoll look (loose fitting dresses with very short hemlines) were popularized by singers of the time, and the model of the moment – Twiggy. At the beginning of the decade, fitted styles were still as popular as they had been in the previous decade. Shift dresses were worn with matching jackets or boleros, complete with co-ordinating handbags, gloves, and hats.
The trend for romantic styles was prominent during this time, too. Long, column dresses with embellished necklines were worn, with the emphasis often on the height of the wearer’s hair!
These dresses show a variety of styles popular during the 1960s to suit many future bridesmaids. Shop 1960s style bridesmaid dresses here.
With a marvelous and vast selection of choice, there is sure to be the right bridesmaid gown out there for you, to complete your perfect day!
Vintage Style Bridesmaid Dresses: